Character Management advice

Hello everybody,

I have recently purchased Scrivener and I am really enjoying it.
All is better then expected, the only thing I am still not figuring yet is how to structure and manage the characters of my novel.

I created a dedicated folder and a document for every character in which i scribble notes and idea.

I was wondering, how do you keep track of your char? you fill a predefined template or you just scribble down things?

I’m not feeling confortable yet with this part.

Please advice,

thanks a lot,

Disclaimer: I am still in the process of making this uniform across my work.

I have a loose template (Name, race, clothing style, etc.), and then when I go through my revised draft, I use the right click —> Append Selected Text to Document for every section that’s somehow describing or revealing info about that char.

I use your method, for the most part. A folded named Characters resides in my Research folder, though I try to maintain a set format within the files for each character. But I just started really using Scrivener and haven’t looked for a better way. I miss how Jer’s Novel Writer handled characters, but I also used that program for a year.

I personally rarely have success filling out templates or the like, at least early on. For whatever reason, seeing a form in front of me completely obliterates any useful creativity (either I just go blank or I get goofy and answer the questions in ways that amuse me but rarely offer anything helpful–at minimum, they give me ideas for continuing the development of the character but are too quirky to work as a quick reference sheet when actually writing). Instead, like you, I create a folder for characters, then folders (or really docs–same deal in Scrivener) for each of the characters I want to keep tabs on. (More minor characters that only show up here and there as names I tend to keep in a single document that’s mostly a list of names and a quick who they are/where they are–e.g. the receptionist that you only see a couple times in the entire novel just as a walk-through character. If they end up being more important, I can easily pull them out and create a new document dedicated to them.) Under that main character doc I have others dealing with particular issues, e.g. a character arc, notes on a particular relationship, etc.

Part of what I love about Scrivener is how easy it is to split documents into smaller, manageable chunks (which also makes them visible as their own key topic in the Binder, in this case) and the split editor. When making character notes, I usually write whatever idea I had and then a bunch more that comes as a result of that (if x, then y, or maybe z?) and then break it up afterward so I can find it easily later and also so I can keep track of ideas I had related to the character that I don’t actually want to use but want to hang on to. (Sometimes they end up fitting in after all; sometimes I forget I had the idea already and foolishly attempt it again, so it’s good to see my reasoning on why such and such wouldn’t pan out properly.) I use labels or status (depending on the project) to additionally mark these up.

Keywords and Scrivener links pull everything together for me, though at the moment I know I’m not nearly using them to their potential. In my early draft stages, I tend not to worry about a lot of that so much–if consistency is really important, I can easily reference the character notes in the second editor via the binder, and if it’s not I either make a note of it as an annotation or in the document notes and worry about it later during editing.

Also it sounds like 2.0 may have some even more elegant solutions to combine keywords and links (just reading this thread, though there may be more recent news), though those were just ideas being tossed around. In any case I think there are a lot of options as-is to develop into a personalized system, so you can keep track of as many fine-grained details as you like.

Wow, I talked a lot. You can tell I’m completely procrastinating on both my novel and my housework… :wink: